Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: Crossbow Education Reading Rulers


I was a Special Education major in college. In one of the reading classes I took, they talked about how using colored overlays can help children with dyslexia and other reading issues. I have thought of that often over the years, but haven't ever researched it further until now.

Crossbow Education is a Christian company, started by Bob Hext, that is passionate about helping people with special needs and dyslexia. They patented the Eye Level Reading Ruler in 2005 and they are currently, along with their colored overlays, in over 40% of the schools in the UK. The Eye Level Reading Rulers are what the Crew was allowed to review.

 We received a pack of 10 different colored reading rulers (Retails for $16.95) to use with the kids for this review. Each one is a 6 inch piece of colored plastic with one narrow window (for reading one line at a time) and one thicker window (for reading several lines or a paragraph). To use them, you simply lay them over the words you are reading and look through the colored window. One side is a glossy finish and the other is more matte. The rulers are used to reduce visual stress on your eyes and to help with dyslexia. Neither of mine have been tested for these, but T is a slow reader and P switches up letters and words a lot so I was very excited to try this product.

When they arrived, we were reading science so I immediately pulled them out and started experimenting.  The pack came with 10 colors: Yellow, Celery, Grass, Jade, Aqua, Sky, Purple, Magenta, Pink, and Orange.  It also came with an information sheet about how to use the rulers so I read through that while the kids experimented on their own. I was using these with both T and P and they, of course, grabbed their favorite color and just knew that was the one they wanted.

The directions say to basically just try out each color and see which one feels better on the eyes when you are reading.  Simple enough! There is a lot of flexibility so lots of things to try out (1/2" or 1 1/4" windows of color, glossy or matte). We played around with them a lot for a few days and they each kept coming back to one that they liked best. Yellow for T and Celery for P - not at all the ones they grabbed when they were picking their favorite colors early on ;) I also tried them all out and it is really cool to see how your eyes feel with each different color. The darker colors made my eyes relax more than the brighter ones and Jade was my favorite (although I even liked stacking Jade and Aqua together...really the darker the color, the less strain on MY eyes - interesting!).

The directions say that they might change preferences day by day, or in different lighting but they have pretty much stuck with these two since the first week. Also interesting to me is that P prefers the one line window and T likes the paragraph window better. Crossbow also sells rulers with single colored windows that don't have the blue section in the middle that I think T would like even better.

Ever since we received them, they have been using them for most of their reading time. They are so little and portable that it is easy to grab it and use it when needed....even for Math as T is doing above. I was driving down the road one day and looked back and T had his yellow reading ruler with him. He had been using it as a book mark so it was there when he needed it. The only issue is that they are so little and portable, that the are easy to lose. I like that you can buy several in the same color to have on hand so they can keep one at their desk, one in a book, etc. They are also easy to scratch so you have to be careful with them. They suggest storing them in a sandwich bag to reduce this.

One day I caught P using hers with a computer reading game (that I will be blogging about next on here!) - lol. They sell anti screen glare products that would most definitely work better for that but in a pinch, I guess you could even put these on the screen or iPad when reading ;)

I don't know much about Irlen Syndrome but am fascinated by all things dyslexic.  I don't worry too much about P's "issues" yet since she is only 7, but am keeping an eye on it. I have felt like these rulers have helped both of their speed and kept them from losing their place. Each colored window has a blue line under it so it sort of underlines their words and keeps them on track. I also don't notice as many reversals when P uses her rulers. Like I said, it isn't horrible, but an example I wrote down of hers is: She read "What color HAS the bucket WHAT was used?" instead of "What color WAS the bucket THAT was used?" Little mix-ups that change the meaning of sentences, making comprehension harder and leading to frustration.

I am so happy we got to review these and recommend them to anyone whose eyes tire easily or they can feel strain when they read. I actually think they would help all children to read faster and easier, but especially those with reading difficulties.

Check out what other Crew members had to say about these rulers by clicking the banner below. 


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

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